Via Positiva: Martin Buber
    Garth Greenwell
In the eighteenth chapter of the first book
of the book, Abraham, rising

to greet the visitors in whose aspects
he recognizes both his lord and the messengers

of his lord, performs those sacraments
by which one welcomes strangers

and gods: the bathing of feet, the slaughter
and preparation of a calf

fed only as yet on milk. Thus, by purity and force
of intention, by the observance

of ritual and law, even the grossest
processes of the flesh may be made

hallowed, that beings entirely
bodiless may partake

in the ceremonies
of the body. It is for this reason

that Abraham stands above
his visitors as they eat, that he,

being of both nature and God, may stage,
as they may not, the reconciliation

through which Creation becomes
a proper dwelling place

for Kingdom. It is the work of man
to invite into his Paradise

the presence of his God. And the angels
take up again their journey toward Sodom.

Garth Greenwell will receive his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis this May. He has poems in current or forthcoming issues of Pleiades, Beloit Poetry Journal, Good Foot, and Verse Daily, and was awarded the Grolier Prize in 2000 and the Rella Lossy Award in 2001; he has also received two Pushcart Prize nominations. The recent recipient of a Mellon Fellowship, he will begin his doctoral studies in English this Fall at Harvard University. His poem from this issue also appears in Margie.



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